Home > 1930, 20th Century, Beach and Public Transports Books, British Literature, Crime Fiction, Melville Alan, TBR20 > Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville – Splendid

Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville – Splendid

December 8, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments

Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville (1934) Not available in French.

I downloaded Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville after reading Guy’s review and what a delight!

We’re in 1934. Jim Henderson is in his thirties, single, unemployed and lives in a boarding house. One day he receives a letter from the mysterious Edwin Carson, a wealthy collector of precious stones. Carson invites Henderson to a weekend at his country house, Thrackley. Jim is a bit weary of this invitation that comes out of thin air but is not in a position to refuse a weekend of free food and accomodation. Then he realises that his good friend The Honorable Freddie Usher is also invited and they decide to carpool to Thrackley.

As they arrive to the gloomy house, they are welcomed by a creepy butler, Jacobson. Their unease increases when they understand that all the guests are rich and own jewels. All but Jim Henderson. He wonders why he was invited and he starts thinking that Carson has an ulterior motive: gathering this party is not just about enjoying each other’s company.

The weekend unfolds and after various peripeties, the mystery is solved and Jim learns about his past.

The summary is a classic murder book of the time. It has the same recipe as a book by Patricia Wentworth. The major difference is Melville’s sense of humour. I was hooked from the first pages by the lightness of his tone, the affectionate way he makes fun of his characters. The description of Henderson’s life at the boarding house was catchy and I couldn’t put the book down. Here are a few excerpts of Melville’s delightful prose:

The alarm clock at Mr. Henderson’s left ear gave a slight warning twitch and then went off with all its customary punctuality and power. It had not cost a great deal of money (to be exact, three shillings and eleven pence), but for all that it had a good bullying ring which could be calculated to waken most of Mrs. Bertram’s lodgers. Not, however, Mr. Henderson.


“Damn!” said Catherine Lady Stone, a member of the Council of the Society for the Purification of the English Language.

This is a perfect Beach-and-Public-Transport book but also a wonderful Gloomy-Winter-Day book that you associate with reading on a couch by the fireplace. It’s British classic crime in all its glory and it can’t get more British than that:

She suddenly shot from her chair and said loudly: “I can’t stand it another minute!” the effect was much the same as if a lorry-load of milk-cans had collided with a double-decker bus in the middle of the Two Minutes’ Silence.

  1. December 8, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Sounds great. I do enjoy these vintage country house mysteries, mostly as a bit of escapism from the realities of the modern world. The BLCCs often turn up in the local charity shops, so I’ll keep an eye out for this one.


    • December 8, 2019 at 10:01 am

      You’d like it, I’m sure. It’s a great comfort read.


  2. December 8, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    What good fun those quotations are!


    • December 9, 2019 at 10:07 pm

      It’s a lot of fun. The quotes are better than any billet to let you know how fun this book is.


  3. December 8, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    I’m reading a BLCC collection of mystery stories at the moment. So entertaining, I’m pretty sure I read a novel by Alan Melville, and this does sound really good.


    • December 8, 2019 at 7:03 pm

      It’s excellent: fun, fast paced. A really good read.


  4. December 8, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    The BLCCs are perfect as far I’m concerned – ideal comfort reading!


  5. December 9, 2019 at 12:05 am

    Those extracts really give a good sense of what to expect from this book. A good fun read….perfect for a winter afternoon


    • December 9, 2019 at 9:57 pm

      Exactly. It’s wonderful entertainment.


  6. December 9, 2019 at 6:47 pm

    I hadn’t heard of this book, thanks!


    • December 9, 2019 at 9:56 pm

      You’re welcome.
      C’est un bon moment de lecture.


  7. December 13, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    It does sound a lot of fun, and a little escapism can be welcome at times.


    • December 14, 2019 at 11:09 am

      So I went to buy this, and then realised I already have it and already read it. I may even have reviewed it. It was fun, but clearly it didn’t stick in the memory for me!


      • December 14, 2019 at 12:47 pm

        We can’t remember all the books we read and for me this kind of book is really good fun at the time you read it but not meant to be remembered more than “it was a fun read”


    • December 14, 2019 at 12:45 pm

      Yes, it’s like watching an entertaining film


  1. December 22, 2019 at 11:04 am

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